WAT KHONGKHA WIHAN





Wat Khongkha Wihan was situated on Ayutthaya’s city island adjacent to Wat Suwannawat. The site was likely located west of the Phra Sri Nakhon Ayutthaya Kindergarten in Tha Wasukri Sub-district. U Thong Road situates just north of the site.

Wat Khongkha Wihan was located within the city walls along the old Lopburi River, presently Khlong Mueang (1) and east of the Phra Kalahom boat landing just opposite Wat Pho. Historical data about this monastery is unknown. The monastery's name refers to one of the five great rivers (Maha Nathi), whose source is in the Himalayan Lake Anodat. The five great rivers are Khongkha (Ganges), Yumna, Achirawadi, Saraphum, and Mahi. [1]
Wat Khongkha Wihan on the maps:
Wat Khongkha Wihan shows on a 19th-century map drafted by an unknown surveyor with the denomination Wat Khongkha Phihan (วัดโคงคาพิหาร) (2). The map indicates the presence of a chedi.
The site is indicated on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's (PBR) map drafted in 1926 CE, precisely in the same position as the 19th-century map. Phraya Boran (1871-1936 CE) was the Superintendent Commissioner of Monthon Ayutthaya from 1925 till 1929 CE but occupied important functions since 1896 CE in Monthon Ayutthaya.
A 1957 Fine Arts Department (FAD) map in a Guide to Ayudhya and Bang-Pa-In, positions the monastery north of the old kindergarten and immediately west of Wat Suwannawat.
The 2007 GIS FAD map situates Wat Khongkha Wihan in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 40.68" N, 100° 33' 59.90" E.
Whether or not the large Bodhi tree with its spirit houses on the present Phra Sri Nakhon Ayutthaya Kindergarten could be related to Wat Khongkha Wihan can be questioned. But if this tree dates back to the Ayutthaya period, what I doubt as Bodhi tree shoots propagate easy, it could also have been part of the premises of Wat Suwannawat.
Footnotes:
(1) Khlong Mueang or the City Canal is a stretch of the old Lopburi River on the northern side of Ayutthaya's city island. Many people believe it is a manufactured canal. The Lopburi River descending from the north ran in the Ayutthaya period around the city and joined the Chao Phraya River near Bang Sai (below Bang Pa-In). Khlong Mueang is a remnant from that time. Today, the canal starts at Hua Ro and has its exit at the confluence with the Chao Phraya River near Hua Laem.(2) Phihan (พิหาร) could be translated as "chapel" and is nowadays written as "wihan" (วิหาร). Mark Carr writes the following on Phihan: "The temples of Samana Kodam are called Pihan (3) and round them are habitations for the priests, resembling a college so those of Boddou are called Vihar, and the principal priests live in them as in a college. The word Vihar, or, as the natives of Bengal would write it ‘Bihar’, is Sanscrit." (3) Refers here to the temples of Siam.
References:
[1] Alabaster, Henry (1871). The Wheel of The Law. London: Trubner & Co. p.307.[2] Chambers, William & Carr, Mark William (1869). Descriptive and historical papers relating to the seven Pagodas on the Coromandel Coast. p 21.